In the end it is the meta-adaptation, the adaptation to the total adaptive system, that is going to kill us or let us live.

Learning to Think in a New Way (1975)

Portrait of Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson

Anthropologist, Social Scientist, and Cyberneticist
May 9, 1904 – July 4, 1980

Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. In the 1940s, he helped extend systems theory and cybernetics to the social and behavioral sciences. He spent the last decade of his life developing a "meta-science" of epistemology to bring together the various early forms of systems theory developing in different fields of science. His writings include Steps to an Ecology of Mind and Mind and Nature.

Bateson's interest in systems theory and cybernetics forms a thread running through his work. He was one of the original members of the core group of the Macy conferences in Cybernetics, and the later set on Group Processes, where he represented the social and behavioral sciences. Bateson was interested in the relationship of these fields to epistemology. His association with the editor and author Stewart Brand helped to widen his influence. From the 1970s until his last years, a broader audience of university students and educated people working in many fields came to know his thought.


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Mentioned in 9 documents

Erich Jantsch and Conrad Hal Waddington

Evolution and Consciousness

Evolution and Consciousness is one of the first, still rare, truly transdisciplinary books: it deals with a totality, not a sector of it. Therefore, it defies any disciplinary labeling. It is a scientific book, yet also deals with topics until now reserved for books of mysticism and poetry. It bridges the gap between science and other forms of knowledge. It deals not just with scientific questions, but with existential questions which concern all mankind, such as the meaning of life and the evolutionary significance of human design and action. It challenges the whole dominant Western world view: process thinking instead of structural thinking, dynamic instead of static, evolution instead of permanency.

Alan Watts

Humor in Religion

Even God might get tired of all the grave piety, Alan suggests. To prove his point, he recounts irreverent tales—like a vagabond snoozing on temple pillows who retorts, “Can't a guy catch some zzz's in his Dad's house?” Laughter, Watts argues, springs from embracing life's contradictions, not fighting them. Seen thus, humor becomes divine comedy, with the Cosmos itself as the ultimate rascal.

Tyler Volk


In the interdisciplinary tradition of Buckminster Fuller’s work, Gregory Bateson’s Mind and Nature, and Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics, Metapatterns embraces both nature and culture, seeking out the grand-scale patterns that help explain the functioning of our universe. Metapatterns begins with the archetypal patterns of space, both form-building and relational. Tyler Volk then turns to the arrows, breaks, and cycles that infuse the workings of time. With artful dexterity, he brings together many layers of comprehension, drawing on an astounding range of material from art, architecture, philosophy, mythology, biology, geometry, and the atmospheric and oceanographic sciences. Richly illustrating his metapatterns with a series of sophisticated collages prepared for this book, Volk offers an exciting new look at science and the imagination. As playful and intuitive as it is logical and explanatory, Metapatterns offers an enlightening view of the functional, universal form in space, processes in time, and concepts in mind.

Ilya Prigogine

Order Through Fluctuation

A thorough mathematical analysis of the spontaneous arising of new order in a fluctuating system, and how insights from dissipative chemical systems may be applied to large-scale social contexts.

Alan Watts

Taoist Way

This talk explores the Taoist philosophy of living fully in the present moment without attachment to the past or future. According to Watts, following the Tao involves acting spontaneously and effortlessly without forcing, appreciating the interconnected nature of all things, and seeing through illusions of the ego and continuity of self across time. The goal is to experience each instant purely without getting caught up in intellectualizations.

Ram Dass

The Advanced Course

Got wisdom? Let Ram Dass be your guide to enlightenment. He takes us on a trip through changing myths, social action, peaceful protests, corporate responsibility, and more. It's all part of life's fascinating dance. Suffering arises when we cling to the intellect. But we find freedom when we open our hearts, embrace oneness and see the perfection in now. So tune in, turn on and wake up! Peace, love and understanding await.

Peter Russell

The Global Brain

Peter Russell’s award-winning video explores the idea that the Earth is an integrated, self-regulating living organism, and asks what function humanity might have for this planetary being. It suggests that we stand on the threshold of a major leap in evolution, as significant as the emergence of life itself, and the essence of this leap is inner spiritual evolution. Moreover, Russell maintains that it is only through such a shift in consciousness that we will be able to manage successfully the global crises now facing us.

Erich Jantsch

The Self-Organizing Universe

The evolution of the universe—ranging from cosmic and biological to sociocultural evolution—is viewed in terms of the unifying paradigm of self-organization. The contours of this paradigm emerge from the synthesis of a number of important concepts, and provide a scientific foundation to a new world-view which emphasizes process over structure, nonequilibrium over equilibrium, evolution over permanency, and individual creativity over collective stabilization. The book, with its emphasis on the interaction of microstructures with the entire biosphere, ecosystems etc., and on how micro- and macrocosmos mutually create the conditions for their further evolution, provides a comprehensive framework for a deeper understanding of human creativity in a time of transition.

Joanna Macy

World as Lover, World as Self

This overview of Joanna Macy's innovative work combines deep ecology, general systems theory, and the Buddha's teachings on interdependent co-arising. A blueprint for social change, World as Lover, World as Self shows how we can reverse the destructive attitudes that threaten our world.